Visit Key to Supporting Healthy Child Development
Hamilton, ON – May 24, 2012 – Today, Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina joined representatives from the
Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS), Hamilton Best Start Network, City officials, and experts in the fields of health and early learning for the launch of a public awareness campaign for Ontario’s Enhanced 18-Month Well-Baby Visit.
The Ontario Enhanced 18-Month Well-Baby Visit is part of a family and child’s regular healthy child check-up and immunization visit with their health care provider. MCYS officially launched the visit in 2010, but the educational focus has been largely directed towards health care providers, providing sufficient information for them to administer the visit under the enhanced format.
Hamilton was the first community, with support from Hamilton Best Start and the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University, to develop educational strategies around the well-baby visit for health care providers.
Now, Hamilton is launching a locally-based public awareness effort; specifically, towards families. Approximately 5,000 children turn 18 months old in Hamilton each year; however, any child ranging in age from 17 to 23 months may receive the enhanced visit.
What makes this visit “enhanced”:
Family fills out a checklist (Nipissing District Developmental Screen®) before the appointment and answers ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether the child can perform certain skills, such as hold a cup to drink, walk up stairs or say 20 or more words
Family and health care provider reviews the checklist at the appointment and thoroughly discusses the child’s development
If there are concerns about the child not meeting certain developmental targets, families are referred to appropriate services in the community, such as speech and language, hearing or behavioural programs
Families are also informed of local parenting and early learning programs that they can attend with the child
“The enhanced visit is usually a child’s last regularly scheduled appointment before starting school. It is the best opportunity to connect families to local resources and, if needed, give that child the help that may be needed,” says Dr. Jean Clinton, Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neuroscience at McMaster University. “We are urging families to book an enhanced visit with their health care provider. Early intervention for a child is critical.”
The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a population measure used to monitor children's developmental vulnerability and was collected in Hamilton in 2002, 2005, 2008, and 2010. In 2010, children's vulnerability in Hamilton was found to range from 0% to 75% of children when examined by Statistic Canada Census Tracts in Hamilton.
Throughout 2012, Hamilton is launching a communications campaign geared towards families about the importance of the well-baby visit. Information will be available in various formats across the city, from doctor’s offices to libraries to Ontario Early Years Centres.
Families and health care providers can also receive support, downloadable resources and other information about the Ontario Enhanced 18-Month Well-Baby Visit at www.18monthvisit.ca.
Mayor Bob Bratina says: “I am proud that Hamilton is setting an example province-wide by initiating an effort to get this important message about the visit out to families. Today we have shown, in a tangible way, that our City's caring for children and families is more than just a slogan."
About The Early Years.
About the Nipissing District Developmental Screen, a free checklist that helps parents understand how their child is growing and developing and is used as part of the Enhanced 18-Month Well-Baby Visit.